Harry Fielding, a convict
Vivian (Fingers) Farnsbarnes, a convict
McVitie, a prison officer
Sister Cosanostri/Raymondo Bononcini
Angus, the cook
Lilian Smudges, the cleaner
Act 1, Scene 1
Evening. A Prison Cell
Fingers whistles loudly and tunelessly.
FINGERS Yes, Harry.
HARRY Put a sock in it. You’ve been whistling for an hour and it’s getting to me.
FINGERS That’s great! I’m not even allowed to be cheerful in my own room.
HARRY Cell, Fingers! It’s a cell -and I have to share it with you. Besides, you only know one tune and that’s only got two notes in it. You sound like a cuckoo with a nut stuck in its throat.
FINGERS I’ve always wanted to do bird impressions. Is about to try one.
HARRY Fingers -NO! Pause
HARRY (Impatiently) Yes, what is it now, Fingers?
FINGERS How long are you in here for?
HARRY Oh, a long stretch this time. Ten years to be precise. Less, if I get parole.
FINGERS Ten years? What did you do to earn that?
HARRY Just a spot of house clearance in Romford.
FINGERS What do you mean, ‘house clearance’?
HARRY Well, you know, the usual sort of thing: I hired a big removal van and emptied a house of its contents.
FINGERS Is that against the law?
HARRY It is if the owners don’t know about it. They came back from their summer holiday to an empty house. Only trouble was the owner was the Chief Constable. Mistake number one: I picked the wrong house.
FINGERS How did you get caught, Harry?
HARRY Ah, that was mistake number two. I flogged some of the big chief’s hardware to a fence in a pub – only the fence turned out to be an undercover copper and he recognised some of the chief’s clobber.
FINGERS That was clever of him.
HARRY Not really, it was all security coded. All he had to do was put it under a u.v. lamp. I reckon the last laugh was on the big chief, though.
FINGERS Why’s that then?
HARRY Let’s just say some of his items I was trying to flog were of a unusual nature: lots of superhero comics, superman, Spiderman and such like: hundreds of Star Trek videos -and even some uniforms. Seems the old man liked to dress up as Captain Picard in his spare time.
FINGERS Jeepers, what do you think his wife thought about that?
HARRY I should imagine she wouldn’t have thought it unusual. After all, her wardrobe included a Catwoman costume and a Lieutenant Ohura uniform. Perhaps they met at a Trekkies convention.
FINGERS I’d like to have been a fly on the wall down at the nick when that lot was brought in.
HARRY Well, I’ve heard that the following Christmas the chief received no fewer than eighteen copies of ‘Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy’. And the biggest catch-phrase at the station that year was ‘Beam me up, Scotty!’
FINGERS What about ‘is it a man, is it a bird? No, It’s the Chief Constable.’
HARRY Alright, Fingers, that’s enough? What’re you in here for anyway?
FINGERS Driving offences!
HARRY Driving offences? Is that all. You must have killed someone to have got time for that.
FINGERS No, I was driving quite normally when I was stopped.
HARRY Don’t tell me -you were driving on the pavement?
HARRY Wrong way up a one-way street?
HARRY No insurance?
HARRY No licence?
FINGERS Come on -use your imagination.
HARRY Under the influence of your mother-in-law?
FINGERS I was driving a getaway car with half a million in crisp, new banknotes in the boot.
(Harry whistles in astonishment.)
FINGERS I offered a share to the traffic cop who stopped me but he wasn’t interested. I got another five years for that.
HARRY But, if you were driving normally, how did you get rumbled?
FINGERS The boot flew open on the M25 and the dosh was spread like confetti over all four carriageways. Caused a twenty mile tailback.
HARRY (Guffawing) Poetic justice they call that.
FINGERS I wouldn’t know, I never read any poetry.
HARRY Not even, ‘I wandered lonely as a clown’?
HARRY Or ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, you could my Ma yelling and slapping her spouse’?
FINGERS Never heard it!
HARRY You must have read some poetry at school!
FINGERS Didn’t go to school.
HARRY What never?
FINGERS Well I did about three times but I soon decided it was not for me.
HARRY But surely, your parents must have known.
FINGERS Never had a father, Mum didn’t care. She was drunk most of the time. Actually, come to think of it, she did used to call out in the mornings, like this: ‘Vivian, it’s time for school’.
HARRY What, your sister didn’t go to school either?
FINGERS Didn’t have a sister.
HARRY Then who was Vivian?
FINGERS That’s me you idiot!
HARRY You’re never called … Vivian…. (laughing) Did they think you were a girl when you were born or something?
FINGERS (Standing) Now just you look here, you pompous git. (Grabbing Harry by the lapels and shaking him) I’ve had enough of you already and we’ve only been in the cell together for two hours. If you don’t shut your trap I’ll stick your head between those bars.
Culture Shock, Lemburg Hall, Lemberg, Canada
Central Alberta Theatre, Canada
Yellowbrick Productions, The Canal Café Theatre, London, England